138. The Littlest Hobo

“There’s a voice that keeps on calling me,
Down the road, that’s where I’ll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can’t stay for long, just turn around and I’m gone again.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.”

The tinny refrain from a battered Nokia clashes with the monotonous chatter coming from the thundering print presses, the grind and hammer of ink slamming onto wood pulp, the defining invention of the last thousand years, a machine that facilitated the opening of minds and the education of the masses now competing with a little pocket device that closes minds, removes thought, spreads cat pictures like a cute plague, or in this particular case, chirrups the theme to the eighties Saturday morning TV show The Littlest Hobo.
Cyclops is dancing.
His big battered boots shuffle in the paper dust and his arms waggle, a demented grin on his big, stupid, cock-eyed face.
He laughs. “Hurr Hurr Hurr.”
I try to avoid him but his one good eye swivels around and locks on.
“ ‘ere, Luci, guess what music this is from!”
“The Littlest Hobo.”
“Oh. Y’smart cunt.”
He keeps dancing, keeps laughing. I try to sneak away.
Cyclops bellows, “A funny fing ‘appened last night!”
“Go on then,” I say.
“Well, I were round at our lass’s ‘ouse an’ we’d ‘ad a fuck an’ that when there comes a knock on t’door so I says, ‘who the fuckin’ ‘ells that you reckon?’ to our lass an’ our lass says, ‘It’ll be the lasses from next door’ so I says, ‘what the fuckin ‘ell do they want, you reckon?’ an’ our lass says, ‘they’ll be bringin’ their dog round’ so I says, ‘why the fuckin’ ‘ell are they bringing their fuckin’ dog round, you reckon?’ an our lass says, ‘because they’re off on a long weekend break to Prague’ so I says, ‘why the fuckin’ ‘ell are they off on a long weekend break to Prague, you reckon?’ but she just told me to shut the fuck up an’ went an’ answered the door.”
I say, “Alright, give me a minute.”
“To sort out all the apostrophes and commas in my head.      Alright, carry on.”
Cylops says, “Right. So our lass answers the door an’ these two bull dykes come in. You know the type.”
“No, I don’t know the type.”
“Mans haircuts mans clobber mans voices but they’re four feet eight tall with big tits an’ big arses.”
“I’m not sure that constitutes a ‘type’ but I get the idea.”
“Well in they come wi’ this ‘ere dog. Scruffy, it’s called. Fuck me, Luci, you should o’ seen ‘em wi the fuckin’ thing! Treating it like a fuckin’ baby! They had a gert big bed for it, huge bags o’ dog food, a teddy bear, dog shampoo in case it got mucky, treats for when it’s bin good, the lot. The blonde dyke were feedin’ it treats from ‘er own fuckin’ gob! Nearly made me puke!”
I say, “I suppose it really is like a baby to them, Cyclops. Aside from adoption and that, it’s not so easy for lesbians to be parents.”
“Well they shouldn’t be turning their noses up at cock then, should they?”
I start to argue, but give up.
“Whatever, Cyclops. Get on with your story.”
“Right. Well these ‘ere dykes fuck off to Prague an’ we’re stuck wi’ Scruffy. It were all nervous to start wi’, but I shouted at it to calm the fuck down an’ it sort o’ curled up in it’s basket an whimpered a bit, so I reckon it were ‘appy enough.”
I say, “You’re like Barbara Woodhouse. Drighlington’s Dog Whisperer. Have you though of writing a book on dog training?”
Cyclops looks bewildered. “Wha?”
“Nowt. Carry on.”
“So Scuffy hops out o’ bed an’ starts scrattin’ at the door. I shout to our lass, “Why the fuckin’ ‘ell is Scruffy scrattin’ the door, you reckon?’ and our lass says, ‘it probably wants a piss!’ so I opens the door an’ out goes Scruffy. Our lass says, ‘keep an eye on on Scruffy!’ an’ I thought she were taking the piss, what wi’ my eye bein’ glass an’ everythin’, but she really meant I should watch the fuckin’ thing take a piss, so I stood in t’kitchen door an’ had a fag, but when I finished it I looked up an’ Scruffy were gone!”
“So I’m wandering round the garden shoutin’ ‘SCRUFFY!! SCRUFFY!’ an’ our lass comes out an’ says ‘What’s wrong?’ an’ I say ‘Scruffy’s fucked off!’ an’ our lass goes mental an’ she’s runnin’ round screamin’ SCRUFFY! SCRUFFY!’ an’ I thought this were funny as fuck, I don’t know why, so I get’s me phone out, go on t’internet, and find this:

Down the road that never seems to end,
Where new adventure lies just around the bend.
So if you want to join me for a while,
Just grab your hat, we’ll travel light, that’s hobo style.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, the whole world is my home.

I say, “Let me get this right. The pride and joy of your girlfriend’s next-door-neighbours decides to run away and all you can do is play the theme tune to The Littlest fucking Hobo?? Are you mental? Did it come back? What the fuck did you do?”
“Well Scruffy were nowhere to be seen. Our lass were cryin’ and shakin’ and getting in a right fuckin’ mess. Well, I took charge. I’m a born leader, y’see. I says, ‘come on, our lass. Get in the fuckin’ motor. We’ll go find Scruffy!’. So we drive around for ages, lookin’ everywhere, but after a while we find im’.
I say, “Well that’s a relief. Where had he been?”
“He were just by the side of the M62, the silly furry cunt. I says to our lass, ‘There he is! I said I’d fuckin’ find ‘im!’ Our lass were hysterical. I pulls onto the hard shoulder an’ I says ‘I’ll get Scruffy!’ so I stick the hazards on, get out, and get the shovel from the car boot.”
I say, “Wait a minute. What did you need the shovel for?”
“For Scruffy, o’ course.”
“Dogs don’t usually need shovels, Cyclops. You don’t get shovels in the pet section at Asda.”
“Yeah, but pets aren’t usually smeared over fifteen feet o’ the M62, are they.”
“WOAH! You mean he was dead?? Scruffy was dead?”
“I fuckin’ hope he were dead. I wouldn’t like to think he were alive lookin’ like that. I reckon three wagons must have twatted ‘im.”
I say, “Jesus, man! What the fuck did you do?”
“I shovelled ‘im up an’ put ‘im in a bin bag, that’s what I did. He were a fuckin’ mess. I were all for puttin’ the whole lot in the bin an’ playin’ ignorant, but our lass wouldn’t have it.”
“What the Hell did you do then? I mean, those two women must be devastated!”
Cyclops shrugs. “Dunno. I told our lass what I thought we should do, then I got my stuff and fucked off ‘ome. It weren’t my problem.”
“You left your girlfriend alone and in tears with a bin bag full of squashed dog and some bloody awkward questions to answer? You’re quite the knight in shining armour, Cyclops. I’m intrigued, though – from start to finish, how long do you reckon you’d been looking after Scruffy?”
“Hmmm… I reckon it were about an hour.”
“So in one hour you managed to shout at Scruffy, lose Scruffy then get Scruffy killed? Good work. I bet those two lasses weren’t even out of Duty Free by the time you were scraping their beloved pet off the hard shoulder.”
Cyclops frowns. “Maybe I should have given ‘em a ring. Told ‘em what ‘appened.”
“Why would you have done that? You don’t seem too bothered that Scruffy got killed.”
“No, but what if they bought the dog an expensive present in Prague? It’s ain’t like they can take it back to t’shops when they find out, can they?”
I shake my head. “Fucking Hell.”
Cyclops’ phone starts to ring. His ringtone is The Littlest Hobo. He grins, then frowns.
“It’s our lass. I wonder what she wants?”
“What the fuck do you think she wants? It’s Tuesday. Her neighbours will have come home
by now.”
Cyclops doesn’t answer the phone. He lets it ring. As the song goes on, he starts to whistle along, then he starts to dance again.
The print press clatters, the phone warbles, Cyclops whistles.
I walk away.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll want to settle down,
Until tomorrow, I’ll just keep moving on.
Maybe tomorrow, I’ll find what I call home,
Until tomorrow, you know I’m free to roam.


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